I know its been a long time since I last posted. I really need to get better about that. Anyway, I just recently moved from Brandon, Fl to Harbour Island in Tampa. I grew up in Brandon since 1995 and towards the end I began to really dislike the idea of continuing to live in Brandon. So as of March Kristen, and I decided to move closer to Downtown Tampa. Now with our current apartment she is able to bike to work at Tampa General Hospital (which is right next door) and I am able to bike to Marion Transit Center and take a bus to work and vice versa on the way home. To be honest I almost forget where I parked my car due to this fact lol. This experience has also allowed us to discover an activity that we both enjoy and is good for our overall health as well as the community that we know call home.
Kristen bought a Jamis Explorer 2 Step Through that allows her to be comfortable and mobile without needing her car. This is the first “real” bike she has ever owned and she is loving it. I say “real” because its a reputable brand purchased from a local bike store, not some third rate POS from a large container store. I chose the Jamis Exile Sport. I used to own a Giant Boulder SE, but it had been sitting in my parents garage for a few years and I had gained a considerable amount of weight since it went into storage. So I decided to go with a much meatier bike and I can tell you that this bike is AMAZING! I cannot wait to get into better shape and head out on the trails again. BTW if you are an off road bike enthusiast, you HAVE to come to Florida and try our trails; we may not have mountains, but we certainly make up for our “short” comings. Anyway, now with our bikes we have discovered a new found hobby that allows us to get out and explore our new home. Not only have these bikes allowed us some added mobility and a healthy activity, mine has personally netted me a gift card from work just for riding my bike to work!
Tampa also is getting much more bike friendly than it was in the past. Just recently Secretary of Transportation Ray La Hood held a bike summit right here in Tampa! We were only one of two cities chosen for such a summit. In the fall Tampa will also be getting its very own BikeShare. There is also work being down to build Tampa’s Green Artery which will connect Tampa in ways that cars cannot. All of this coupled with the work that Connect TampaBay is doing to bring a 21st century transit system to Tampa is all very exciting.
It’s bad enough to drive in the dark when bus stops are barely visible, it’s even worse when there is fog so thick you have to struggle to see 200ft in front of yourself. Thankfully the stops that did have passengers waiting at them were either well lit from above or were backlit by storefront lights. With the sun starting to rise hopefully most of it will burn off within the next hour.
If you are reading this and you catch a bus early in the morning or late at night, please break out your cell phone when you see the bus approaching. You have no idea how much more visible you become. If you carry a flashlight that’s even better.
The fog has cleared up, but it’s not completely gone. And for those of you who are driving, turning your brights on during any kind of precipitation will only make visibility worse.
I was reading a post from fellow transit nerd and fellow WordPress Blogger, Zachary Ziegler, about his former hometown agency at BFT (Ben Franklin Transit) testing out an Electric Transit Bus, not a hybrid but a 100% electric bus! You can check it out here, BFT Electric Bus Demonstration. His post made me think of all of the other “green” initiatives in mass transit currently. Obviously the most popular option is electrified rail, but its also the most costly and if its not implemented properly it could become a huge disaster. I remember a common theme from a book I read not long ago called Straphanger (definitely worth reading if you have even the smallest interest in transit). The one thing that Taras Grescoe continued to repeat throughout the book is that agencies should invest in the option that is the absolute best for their service area and is also the most feasible financially. The reason I say this is that being Green can cost a lot of the other kind of green, which is something that a lot of agencies are lacking thanks to the ineptitude of our elected “officials”. For this reason an electric bus may be a viable option for cities that can’t even dream about affording rail. They can be a green agency without having to sink a ton of money into an option that just doesn’t make sense. The nice thing is that just about any bus out there can be outfitted with the electric engines. Just imagine cities being cleaner and healthier simply because the big hulking buses aren’t spewing nasty carbon filled toxins anymore.
I know that most of the posts I make about HART are usually in a good light. But I have to say that this post is not a good one. One July 19, 2012 a HART bus operator, a fellow operator was attacked. You would think that with an Authority like HART they would have acted swiftly and decidedly to protect Colin Brown, but they did almost the exact opposite. The response time to aide him in his time of need was abysmal and the follow up by HART was equally dis-heartening. This attack could have gone down a much different road too. Fortunately Mr. Brown is alive, and at home resting and recuperating. HART may not have been able to foresee this happening, but they most certainly should have handled it better and with more care and professionalism. I’ll let you watch the story below and let you form your own opinions. My opinion is that I do not feel safe and protected where I work anymore. The same can be said for most of my fellow operators. As a passenger, wouldn’t you like to know that when you board a bus that your safety and security is the companies first priority? I know I would.
Recently I had the good fortune of finally being able to go and check out what our cohorts at PSTA (Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority) are up to in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Largo. Since I became an operator (not driver Zach!) I’ve wanted to do this, but I never really had anyone who was interested in transit as I am to join me. In these last few months a friend of mine, Zachary Ziegler came to visit me in Tampa. So I decided that we should both make this journey, and we finally did. Continue reading →